Jesus was not afraid of Herod’s murderous designs. He had no need to be. No one had the authority or power to take Jesus’ life (John 10:17-18). And human threats are unimpressive when you grasp God’s loving and sovereign care. Herod was not a real threat. Lions are dangerous predators. Foxes are not. Foxes live in the shadow of lions. And this is how we ought to view all human threats (Luke 12:4). And, like Jesus, in the face of human threats, we ought to go about the business of the kingdom. As the second Adam, Jesus had work to accomplish. He exorcised demons and healed people, restoring dominion over God’s creation to man. And we, too, have a kingdom task. Because all authority has been given to Jesus, we are to be making disciples, baptizing them and training them to trust and obey God (Matt. 28:18-20). And threats will follow (2 Tim. 3:12). Nevertheless, we are to entrust ourselves to our heavenly Father, and press on in confidence that the kingdom will grow.
Lament for Jerusalem
Jesus also knew that he would not die in Herod’s jurisdiction. He would not die in Galilee or Perea, but in Jerusalem. And that is very sad. It’s sadness is exacerbated by the fact that Jerusalem lies at the heart of God’s covenant people. It is where the kings of Israel lived, pointing the way toward the coming king. It is where the sacrifices were offered, pointing the way toward the Great Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Everything centered on Jerusalem.
But a veil prevented them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. They wanted political deliverance, that they might pursue their selfish and sinful lives in peace. The never grasped God’s wrath toward their sins. Repentance never crossed their minds.
It is a tragic thing when people of the covenant are covenant breakers rather than covenant keepers. Our children have been shown a measure of grace that most children have not. They have been placed by God into homes where the path to redemption is confessed and proclaimed. It is tragic when they never grasp the true gospel. How many so-called Christians go on thinking that they will be accepted by being good, or by not being too bad. They’ve missed the point. They haven’t grasped that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom 3:23–25 ESV) And unless they do, like Jerusalem, their house will be left desolate, without hope.
Many will expect to enter the kingdom of God who will not be able. Though they dined with the Lord and heard him preach in their streets, the Lord does not know them (Luke 13:26-27; 1 John 4:10). And, though God is sovereign over these matters, having mercy on whomever he wills, and hardening whomever he wills (Rom 9:18 ESV), he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:23, 32). He is patient, and gives plenty of opportunity to the wayward (2 Pet. 3:9). We know that, unless the Spirit removes the veil from their hearts (2 Cor. 4:4), they cannot repent and believe the gospel (Rom 8:7-9). Nevertheless, we would do well to recognize the heart of our Savior in this passage. There is a tendency for those who grasp God’s sovereignty to center all their thinking about God on God’s decree, forgetting the persons behind the decree. And that would be a mistake. God clearly reveals his heart. He is saddened by those who break his covenant, who have every opportunity to turn, but refuse.
Don’t make that mistake. Embrace the gospel afresh, and train up your children to know Jesus. Let them see your own struggle to be what God has declared you to be. Let them see you, not just on a mountaintop issuing commands, but in the trenches with them, striving to live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received.
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